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Sewing with scuba – patterns and tips for success

Learn how to sew scuba fabric with ease to create a bold jacket, dress, trousers or skirt!

We’re sharing 5 patterns perfect for scuba and 10 sewing tips to make sure you project goes smoothly. You can also see how the Sewing Bee Series 8 contestants used scuba in our Sports week inspiration article!

Scuba fabric is a fabulous stretch jersey fabric that is great made into figure hugging dresses, tops and skirts. Scuba fabric is made from polyester and high-stretch spandex. It’s a type of double knit, with a smooth but fairly thick texture. It is springy so is perfect for shaping skirts. Although called scuba, it is not the material that wetsuits are made of, neoprene, which is a thicker synthetic rubberised fabric.


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Flared dresses like S9176  look fabulous in scuba because the firm fabric helps hold the silhouette. The coordinating belt finished the look perfectly!

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Take inspiration from Gill on Sewing Bee and make a scuba N6545 jacket. This pattern works perfectly in loads of fabrics so you could make a second in a satin or denim!

10 Sewing Tips for Scuba

1. As with other high stretch fabric
that have spandex or Lycra in them, the best type of needle to use is a stretch needle. This has a deep shaft and rounded point that parts the fibres and avoids skipped stitches, or worse, snags and runs.

2. Layers of scuba can be bulky and difficult to pin. Use pattern weights to hold layers together for cutting out. Remember if you do use pins, they can blunt the same way as needles and then cause snags or runs in the fabric. Avoid pins within the garment area as they can leave little holes in the dense and tightly knitted fabric.

3. Use a stretch stitch (lightening stitch) or triple straight stitch for any horizontal seams that go around the body so they will stretch with the fabric when pulling the garment on/off. Try a slightly longer stitch than normal (3mm) to cope with the springiness and bulk of the layers.

4. Consider using a roller foot or walking foot to help feed the slippery bulky
layers evenly.

5. Scuba is often used for figure-hugging dresses and tops – so take care when picking your pattern size – remember it is not the same as your high street size! Work on your body measurements to determine which to cut out.

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M8058 is the ULTIMATE jersey shift dress pattern with SEVEN views to pick from. It works perfectly in scuba, and that’s a promise as I’ve made several scuba dresses with it.

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S9385 is a fun sweater pattern that could be made in a single print of scuba. Or you could have some colourblocking fun by making the body and sleeves out of different shades and prints!

6. It’s best to choose patterns designed for two-way stretch. These will be designed to fit more closely in a knitted fabric. You can use the Pick-A-Knit guide on our pattern envelopes to work out if your fabric is right for your pattern!

Some scuba is very tight with minimal stretch so match your fabric and pattern accordingly. If your scuba behaves like a woven rather than a jersey knit, choose a woven pattern and install zippers and closures as normal.

7. If you choose a pattern designed for woven fabric but your scuba has stretch, you might be able to make a slightly smaller size and leave out fastenings such as zips. Simply cut the seam with a zip on the fold instead.

8. Scuba can be used to drape dramatically as well as for tight fitting outfits but because it is springy, avoid anything with neat stitched pleats. Full skirts look wonderful as do tulip-shaped hems, asymmetrical hemlines and bold stand-out collars.

9. As the fabric doesn’t fray, you don’t need to finish raw edges – indeed, you can leave them raw for a casual look. If you do wish to finish them, try overlocking with matching thread one layer at a time or using bias binding to wrap around the raw edge.

10. Some scuba fabrics are thicker than others, so if you struggle to feed the scuba through an overlocker to cut and sew, first trim the seam with scissors and just use a
three-thread overlocker to neaten the seams with the knife disengaged.

Vogue 1486 is a beautiful skirt with flounce that many of our customers have made in scuba!

Wash and Care

1. Pre-wash your fabric, as you would with any other fashion fabric. Use a medium-heat wash, 30-40ºC. Do not tumble dry as the heat will damage scuba fabric.

2. Scuba fabric can be uncomfortable to wear in hot weather as it is densely knitted and won’t ‘breathe’ like woven fabric so avoid bodycon dresses made from scuba in the summer.

3. Use a low setting on your iron when pressing scuba to avoid marking or even melting the fabric. Use the tip of the iron to get into the seams to press them open. If ironing from the right side, cover the fabric with a press cloth first to prevent shine.

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